Saturday December 15, 2018

Rescued Bonded Laborers Need Psychological Help to Battle Mental Trauma: Study

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories

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Bonded laborers
India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030. VOA
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  • Freedom becomes an alien concept to bonded laborers and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality
  • India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030
  • While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down
 After his rescue from abuse and overwork as a bonded laborer in a brick kiln in south India, Shanmugam Paneer has set up his own business making household items from bamboo.But the lifeless monotone he uses to describe his five-year ordeal betrays an inner struggle to move on from one of India’s most prevalent forms of human trafficking.

“For many, the process of coming out with the truth is far more painful than actually living those years in bondage,” said Loretta Jhona, a counselor with the U.S.-based charity International Justice Mission.

“Freedom becomes an alien concept and they constantly battle with their captivity mentality.”

Though India banned bonded labor in 1976, it remains widespread, with millions working in fields, brick kilns, rice mills, and brothels, or as domestic workers to pay off debts.

India announced an ambitious goal last year to rescue more than 18 million bonded laborers by 2030 and to increase fivefold the compensation that is paid to them, as part of a wider drive to tackle modern slavery.

Rescued workers need more psychological help to become truly free, counselors say, as they are often too scared to admit to suffering, such as sexual abuse, for fear of retribution from their former owners.

 bonded laborers
Young Indian bonded child laborers wait to be processed at a safe house after being rescued during a raid by workers from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, at a factory in New Delhi, India, June 11, 2013. VOA

“People are released physically but not really released from the burden of the debt, or the mental trauma they have undergone,” said Umi Daniel, a migration expert at the Aide et Action International charity.

Many former slaves instinctively curl up in their beds, used to spending a couple of hours sleeping in a cramped space, Jhona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

While survivors of sex trafficking often receive help in shelter homes, rescued bonded laborers simply return to their villages and completely shut down.

“Very often there is no talk of the years spent in bondage,” said Jhona, adding that workers often find it hard to tell her of their hopes for the future.

“They ask us how they can have aspirations when even to eat or sleep they needed permission from their owners,” she said.

ALSO READ: India accounts for almost 40 percent of the worldwide laborers

“It is heartbreaking to see people with nil dreams and no aspirations, even for their children. They don’t think a better future can exist and most refuse to talk about any of it for months.”

No fear

Some rescued bonded laborers are coming together to lobby for their rights and share their stories.

Rukamana Deep says he finally “felt free” when he gave a lecture at the Odisha National Law University in April, describing how his family of four were trapped in a brick kiln.

Deep was able to tell his tale in detail, recounting his anger, despair, and helplessness as they worked round the clock to make up to 1,000 bricks a day for 100 Indian rupees ($1.56).

“There was no fear that day,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview from his village in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. “I just wanted to tell my story.”

Deep says his confidence comes from the fact that he knows he is not alone, after attending monthly meetings of a migrant bonded labor forum, Dadan Goti Shramik Surakshya Manch.

“We just talk about a lot of things, including the present challenges and the past problems,” he said. “We understand each other and also create teams that immediately reach out to recently rescued workers. It’s important for them to talk.”

Daniel, of Aide et Action International, believes such forums are critical.

“It’s a big step in their healing process,” he said. (VOA)

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#MeToo To Kill Evil in Male, Not His Gentle-manliness

However, there is a fair chance of this movement being “misused” for the wrong end too.

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#MeToo, Victim, sexual harassment
#MeToo movement will make system more transparent: Ronnie Screwvala. Flickr

By Salil Gewali

It is no more going to be a bed of roses for sexual predators. Now they can scarcely hide the wrong acts with the cover of their power and influence. Even the powerfully naughty and haughty Harvey Weinstein had to give in to the thunder of #MeToo some months back. Thanks to the bold roars in unison by over 80 victims who could finally corner this lecherous filmmaker. What of Weinstein’s castle of his opulence and social influence now? They all have fallen virtually down like a house of cards! Yes, the formidable jaws of #MeToo have already devoured a good many Weinsteins across the world.

#meToo
MeToo is frightfully sharp dagger what will slay the evil within perverts.

Big uproars in media and Bollywood have already put the integrity of the entertainment houses into question. Many film actresses are now determined to fight against the sexual advances by their past bosses.  But what is too shocking is that we now get to see the skeletons tumbling out from the unsuspected holy cupboards too. This 19th October was another new dawn for the Northeast. A humble lady from our Meghalaya could gather enough courage yet again. She spelt out through social media the evil acts of the devil under the garb of holiness. Too disgusting, ones who sermonized and lectured about the “hell of eternity” in fact had allegedly given the lady hell since she was a 5-year old kid. I don’t think any jail sentence or material punishment will ever content God in heaven for such heartless pedophilic acts. It is an unpardonable sin.

Well, it’s too difficult to analyze the ordeal the said lady had experienced all through. But the pain of anxieties and trauma has driven her to cry for the “justice”. True, with the “Weinstein effect” worldwide now, the aggrieved victims of sexual abuses can stand up and call out the perpetrators. Yes, I am quite sure, what we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. Frankly speaking, #MeToo is frightfully sharp dagger what will slay the evil within perverts. Not just that, it will frighten away the males from committing any sexual crimes. Let’s pray, the more new cases, albeit genuine,  come to light and the more sanity will descend upon the society

Nana Patekat, #Metoo, Women
#MeToo movement shows India’s soul is decaying: Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt

I think the stern laws and various kind of punishments existing to prevent sexual misconducts have been quite dwarfed by the worldwide #Metoo movement. One considers this movement as truly “successful” when males habitually “fear to touch” females as they fear to touch fire. Indeed, as noticed, the fear “symptom” has already started to run deep into the veins of the males. Is it not a very healthy development? Hope this will help douse their raging fire of lust.

However, there is a fair chance of this movement being “misused” for the wrong end too. Its consequence could be very bad for both males and females, and society at large. Such false #MeToo sure to “upset” the system God created. So, no innocent males should ever be harassed and tormented by females for vengeance.  “WeTwo” should not at all turn into MeToo, else the “sharpness” of MeToo movement itself goes blunt too early. Let the evil in man be slain, not his gentlemanliness!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.  Twitter: @SGewali.